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Knockout game – UFC

The new UFC mixed martial arts game/simulation arrived today for the Xbox One. I had got very interested having played the demo. In Choi Kwang Do we don’t do this sort of fighting, as we don’t compete and hurting people is not really on the list of things to do. However with my developer hat on I wanted to see how the moves looked, some of which are obviously similar to the flowing sequential moves we have in Choi. Having looked into how the kinect can capture out moves it is interesting also to see how the mixture of motion capture and artistic adjustment is done in a high end fight game for this generation of consoles.
It is very impressive. The quality of movement and engagement that you feel as a player is very good. Being UFC is it as much about grappling and ground work and punches and kicks. Another thing that we try to avoid in CKD πŸ™‚
This is of course a game and punching buttons is very different from launching a powerful kick. Practicing a martial art though does help you appreciate the power that anyone can generate, and hence imagine the power the professional athletes dedicated to this style of combat can create.
The animations and models of the fighters are some of the best that I have seen in a game. It is complex to have to deal with the multitude of movements and blending the animations together. If you have tried to create animations, or combine them, even on a small scale (like my current project in Unity3d) it is by no means straight forward and as big an art form and speciality as programming or visual design.
This version of UFC has a brilliant model of the great Bruce Lee. he will be familiar to many people as an iconic and talented martial artist so it helps to see him if you haven’t seen the other fighters in action to appreciate where the start of the art is.

A lot of these knockouts have the move that caused them played a few times afterwards as button basing tends to happen. However that lets us see the way that those moves are represented.
I am still hopeful that with Kinect 2.0 (the windows version is due very soon) and a bit of work I can get some degree of fluidity to represent our more peaceful art using similar technology.

Real life avatar

Over the years I have got very used to digital representations of physical things and have often paid attention and talked and written about the impact those avatars have on our interactions with one another. A few days ago my new Choi Kwang Do training partner arrived, a Century BOB XL.

I already have large punch bag but there is something very interesting that seems to happen when faced with a face, an avatar representing a human form. I had noticed this before training on BOB at the West End Dojang and various other places.
Bags and shields provide a good target to practice technique. We also practice target punching and kicking and defence drills with our fellow students. However in Choi we do not spar it is not a martial art to try and get hurt doing.
BOB on the other hand presents you with an interesting mental challenge. Whilst it is a monochrome coloured lump of rubber it does have human features. It makes you think whether or not you really could defend yourself against a real person and use the sort of strength of attacks we learn and practice. It also allows you to desensitise yourself to the human in front of you, to practice tuning them out. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I need to use Choi techniques to defend me or someone. However I do want to be as mentally prepared as possible.

Like all things though this can be over analysed, and it is just good fun to use the various techniques to target the right pieces of the body, the irregular shape of a human form versus the symmetry of bag provides another level of practice.
So now my Choi self, an avatar in its own right as I switch modes can interact and have a conversation with the BOB avatar. Of course this is also for the rest of the family as we are all practitioners in the art. I know the predlets really like BOB and as the mini Dojang gets a little better organised (new garage door to maximise the room there) then we shall all get to play a bit more.

I hope I can put some tech instrumentation in too to add to the fun. A proper place to put the power meter/arduino contraption and who knows the Xbox Kinect too (though still need that dev kit form Microsoft!)
For more on Choi Kwang Do check out basingstokeckd.co.uk

Got back home to some amazing news. Oculus to Facebook :)

I am just about coming around from a superb trip to the US with my Choi Kwang Do family. We took a flight to Orlando, then drove 500 miles in 2 cars up to Atlanta, Georgia. The HQ of CKD. Whilst there several of the group graded for belts, a black belt and 2 coloured belts. Also the founders of the Hampshire group of schools Mr Derek Bicknell and his son Mr Liam Bicknell graded (for 2 days ) with Grand Master Choi and achieved their 4th Degree blackbelt in CKD. A very fine achievement.
Most of the time I spent at HQ, training and helping out. It is a great time to just concentrate on the art not worry about the outside world.

I did take a trip with some of our group to the aquarium and I also spent some time with an old friend from Atlanta who very kindly took me skeet and target shooting out on the wilds near Alabama for the full redneck experience. Including firing a very loud M1 rifle.

Once the training was done we then drove 500 miles back to Tampa where we attended the 27th anniversary of Choi Kwang Do at a seminar.

So I was almost completely immersed in CKD and less in tech. However… I did speak to some people about the kinect and how that could help training and I also explored making videos on the fly. I had made some using the iMovie trailer wizard before but I attempted a couple of live ones. The first was when I took a break from driving and made this.

The second was attempting to document the aquarium experience. Atlanta aquarium provides very fast wifi which make a lot of sense so we can all share things as we are doing them. This was the result.

The wifi at the seminar let me capture and publish straight to youtube too, such as Miss Cullen’s shield attack which she gained a great 3rd place and a handshake from Grand Master Choi.

I had videos all the demo teams too, I was about to upload them when I realised that they are all performed to music that probably would get flagged by the google bot and get takedown orders on them. So that requires a bit more editing not on the iPhone πŸ™‚
On getting back and feeling enthused by jet lagged I was pleasantly surprised to find that Facebook was buying Oculus Rift the VR headset. Now I understand the notion that a big company has just bought out something slightly cool because it was not mainstream but as a metaverse evangelist and as part of this industry I think it is very good news. That combined with Sony’s Morpheus headset and the potential combination of Google Glass and Google Tango means we have a resurgence in the very thing that people keep asking if its dead. Virtual worlds. Headsets provide another way to interact with 3d content. It may not be to everyone’s taste, there is a barrier to entry. However big tech firms showing an interest again will push things forward back up the good side of the hype curve.
Issues of identity, of immersive design, integration with existing data. New ways to explore how we communicate as humans all get brought to the fore. It will give another generation a chance to push things forward. I am of course happy to help anyone get to grips with the changes this will bring. I have been in this virtual space quite a while now, though there are other pioneers that were there before too.
So bring it on πŸ™‚ It would be amazing to be up close and personal with digital renditions of all the wonderful Choi Kwang Do experts in an immersive 3d environment too. There are of course slight practical issues of wiring getting in the way, but it would be possible to get a complete perspective of the art from the view of a grandmaster captured digitally. Not to replace the real physical thing, but it would be great to feel that peace and excitement of the Atlanta HQ from here πŸ™‚

Proper parcel tracking – interlink and tep

With my impending US road trip with my fellow Choi Kwang Do students and teachers I thought I best ensure I had internet connectivity on the road.

Whilst lots of hotels etc have wireless I wanted a roaming device for the long car journey. Recently my backup global roaming data service (aboradband) ceased to operate.
Instead I decided to rent a Tep Wireless device. This gives a data plan and a wireless/cellular device with a variety of tariffs.
You can pick these up at the airport if you are flying from Heathrow, but I am going from Gatwick. So instead I needed to order a home delivery.
Now home delivery is getting better, but usually we only get to know roughly the day something will arrive. Tep said that it would be 2-3 days before travel. I had not heard anything this morning (I fly thursday). I checked my spam filter and sure enough there was a very cool link to the tracking service. (I am not blaming Tep for my spam filter πŸ™‚ )
The email said that I could track the parcel but also gave me a 1 hour window for the delivery. This is fantastic. Right at the moment the van is just down the road and the parcel is on its way.
SafariScreenSnapz033
I will post a review of the service once the trip is over, or whilst on the trip. However this is a very good start. Well done interlink for having proper tracking on parcels. Now I wonder if my baggage will get the same service πŸ™‚

BCS Bristol – Guitars and games, changing peoples lives with martial arts

Yesterday I braved the inclement weather and headed of to a room at Bristol university to give one of my talks to BCS Bristol. I had arranged to do this some time ago, probably when we were moving house back in May so I had sent a possible title and was planning to send an abstract. However, I forgot! so the the invite just said “Guitars and games, changing peoples lives with martial arts” with Ian Hughes. I did have my usual bio in there so it was not all bad. Luckily there were lots of interested or intrigued people who came along last night and I had a great time sharing, telling the stories of my tech journey that got me to Choi Kwang Do. Explaining just how cool Rocksmith 2014 is and also showed everyone the Oculus Rift and let those that wanted to have a go. The presentation is of course a mix, match and evolution of many of my previous ones, but here is it, minus the many videos with some links to them instead. It also features links to the local Bristol CKD school as I said I urge everyone to just go and take a look at how friendly and invigorating Choi Kwang Do is.
Thankyou to everyone at BCS Bristol. Thankyou also for the very kind comments and great conversations afterwards. It means a great deal to me that I help people see things in a new light through sharing these personal experiences powered by game technology.

I should add that the 90 miles home was a good straight run in the car, hardly any “weather” to speak of. Quite a relief.

CKD supercars

Further to my post on digital art I spent a good few hours last night on a version of the Choi Kwang Do logo so that I could plaster that on my custom paint work cars on Xbox One Forza 5. This is quite an undertaking as this is not pixel art. Various coloured stickers have to be manipulated to form the design. The font is not quite right but as this is often fast moving it is the general impression that is important.
****UPDATE 13/12/13 added video
Here is a mini video clip of all the various pieces of sticker used in this

What I really need to prove is that the Drivatar (that is my driving habits in an AI car) is actually using my design. This seems to be the case on the local machine for certain as my Drivatar and car paint work was appearing in other people races on the console. So if you see a CKD logo on a Subaru, Mini, LaFerrari or Viper let me know πŸ™‚ It could be this is the next frontier of in game advertising. Rather like a tweet or retweet can become. If it is no longer just restricted to delivering your designs to people when you race on multiplayer.
scoobyckd
scoobyckdbumper
VyperCKD
LaFerrariCKD
LaFerrariCKDarch
It is approaching 5 years since I first put the Feeding Edge logo out for a test run on a Tshirt and a few other places πŸ™‚ Here are some of the older ones
There is so much scope over and above banner ads and in game billboards to get a message across. Sounds like another use case I need to isolate and write up?

Xbox One Kinect Two

The title almost sounds like a football score but we are very close to the release of the next wave of consoles. I am particularly interested in the Xbox One for a number of reasons.
1. Most of my gaming has gravitated towards the 360 so I am geared up for the next gen franchises like the fantastic looking Forza 5.
2. The Kinect 2.0 has some features that are going to be really useful for any Choi Kwang Do applications.
3. Unity 3d has a tie in with Xbox One development.
4. Proper Cloud processing, utility computing looks like it is part of Microsofts plan. Not just streaming games from elsewhere, but farming off processing to large servers and delivering results back. (Grid computing as we used to call it πŸ™‚ )

As a Unity developer, whilst much of what I do is private rather than publicly available I am really interested in being able to deploy to the Xbox One. It opens up a lot of possibilities from a research point of view and may lead to some extra commercial work.
I have applied for the ID@Xbox scheme which is to help developers get onboard with the Xbox One. Eventually any Xbox One will be a potential piece of development kit, which is great news, but at the moment they are still in the old console model of needing a special Xbox One to develop on. Unity3d have announced free versions of Pro to go with those kits. As a Pro licence owner already I really just need access to the kit.
In particular when you see the different in how the Kinect 2.0 can deal with the human form as in this video.
***fixed the link as it was the wrong kinect video πŸ™‚

Having a richer skeleton, complete with real shoulders, but also the tools already in place to look at weight distribution, muscle tension, limb acceleration and interestingly too the heart rate from the face.
You can see that this provides me with a whole lot more tech vocabulary to be able to analyse what we do in Choi Kwang Do and provide a training aid, or training mirror. This is compared to where I am up to with Kinect 1.0 as in this previous post (one of my virtual/gaming technology Use Case examples)
I am not sure if I meet Microsoft’s requirements to be called a developer, but then most of what I do never fits on any of these forms that I have to fill in πŸ™‚ If I do and I get access to dev kit that is great. Either way this is much more useful than the alternative platforms, so I am hopeful.
As it is my Xbox One has been on preorder since they were launched so I am hoping the post delivers it promptly on 22nd November, just 10 days away. That is the fun side of playing, but it as ever is also part of learning and understanding the world of technology.

Use Case 2 – real world data integration – CKD

As I am looking at a series of boiled down use cases of using virtual world and gaming technology I thought I should return to the exploration of body instrumentation and the potential for feedback in learning a martial art such as Choi Kwang Do.
I have of course written about this potential before, but I have built a few little extra things into the example using a new windows machine with a decent amount of power (HP Envy 17″) and the Kinect for Windows sensor with the Kinect SDK and Unity 3d package.
The package comes with a set of tools that let you generate a block man based on the the join positions. However the controller piece of code base some options for turning on the user map and skeleton lines.
In this example I am also using unity pro which allows me to position more than one camera and have each of those generate a texture on another surface.
You will see the main block man appear centrally “in world”. The three screens above him are showing a side view of the same block man, a rear view and interestingly a top down view.
In the bottom right is the “me” with lines drawn on. The kinect does the job of cutting out the background. So all this was recorded live running Unity3d.
The registration of the block man and the joints isn’t quite accurate enough at the moment for precise Choi movements, but this is the old Kinect, the new Kinect 2.0 will no doubt be much much better as well as being able to register your heart rate.

The cut out “me” is a useful feature but you can only have that projected onto the flat camera surface, it is not a thing that can be looked at from left/right etc. The block man though is actual 3d objects in space. The cubes are coloured so that you can see join rotation.
I think I will reduce the size of the joints and try and draw objects between them to give him a similar definition to the cutout “me”.
The point here though is that game technology and virtual world technology is able to give a different perspective of a real world interaction. Seeing techniques from above may prove useful, and is not something that can easily be observed in class. If that applies to Choi Kwang Do then it applies to all other forms of real world data. Seeing from another angle, exploring and rendering in different ways can yield insights.
It also is data that can be captured and replayed, transmitted and experienced at distance by others. Capture, translate, enhance and share. It is something to think about? What different perspectives could you gain of data you have access to?

Goto; Amsterdam part 2 of 2 –Some Choi then Makers gather

Day 2 (part 1 is here) of Goto started very early in the morning for me. I woke up and thought, hmmm I should do my Choi Kwang Do stretches and patterns, not realizing it was only 5am. Still it made me feel pretty good after the slightly heavy night out previously. Conferences are weird time shifts too, the intensity of being in conference mode needs something to balance it and this did. Besides I was going to be talking about Choi in my presentation and I had not been to class since the Saturday. It was now Wednesday!
Room with a view and an iMac  :)
So I entered the morning keynote pretty refreshed and ready to hear some interesting things.
The twitter wall was up and running again, as were my tweets. The wifi was rock solid the whole conference too !
Twitter wall #gotoams that was a well timed shot :)
First up was Martin Fowler, author of many books I have owned and read on patterns, UML etc. He had picked a couple of his talks that he has in his kit bag. For pure software engineers these were probably very useful. Schema’s still being there when there is no Schema made sense as at some point anything needs a structure put on it.
The tracks for the day were, It’s all about the people, stupid, Agile Closing the Loop, Hard Things Made Easy, Mobile, Case Studies, Legacy Systems and our Emerging interfaces track.
I stuck with the It’s all about the people, so that I could hear Linda Rising (@risinglinda) talk again. She talked about the power of the agile mindset. This was nothing about the Agile development approach, but really about human motivations and how they get messed up depending how they are addressed. Linda cited an experiment that gave an easy test to a group of students. After the test the group was divided into to by a subtle difference. This was not revealed until the rest of the story had been told. Instead Linda introduced Fixed and Agile thinking groups. Fixed being of an attitude that any task, intelligence, talent etc cannot be improved, you stick with what you have got and make the most of it, versus an agile mindset that is not fixed but is intrigued and motivated by the challenge and the effort aiming to improve.
In the story the fixed group were asked if they wanted to take a new easy test or a new hard test. They all chose easy again. The effort/agile group chose harder tests, thriving on the challenge.
There were several elements to the research that had been done that Linda recited, but it showed that the fixed mindset tends to measure itself against others being worse, assuming it can’t improve it maximises others flaws. The agile mindset looked for challenges, understood that failure was a learning experience and enjoyed the entire process comparing only to themselves and wanting to coach others to join them.
Now it turns out the only difference in the groups in the experiment was that the fixed group were handed their results and told that they were very clever. The agile group was handed the results and told they must have worked very hard. There are lots of examples of this but also that the fixed thinking tends to be destructive. The “rank and yank” approach of Enron and other corporates that seek to measure and find “the best” cut the others out etc. which leads to a set of people only wanting to not be in the bottom of the pool. This was compared to organisations like Southwest Airlines who seek to grow people, help them get better at whatever they do.
This is all out there in research, that is obviously ignored as it is a bit scary. However, linking back to my morning Choi exercises, in CKD there is no competition.We all want to learn, we want to grow and improve ourselves and help others. Nothing is ever wrong, it is a way to learn to do it better. Instructors are helped to understand how ti give positive re-enforcement and to praise effort. I don’t often hear “you are brilliant” used about people in the art, instead “that was a great effort”. Find you limit and push a little past it, then a little more. Just strive to get better not be the best. it is so simple and effective and it works.
(It has got me pondering an evolution of my blended learning piece of the pitch that features CKD and dive more into the similarity with how to do any good team growth and nurturing based on the CKD experience.)
The next presenter was Simon Brown on Sustainable competence – the people vs process and technology. This was more of a consulting experience presentation, but about the same subject. How and where it works to let people take an agile approach. It also was important to point out that Agile as a buzzword did not mean quick nor sort it out without the complications of design, build and test. In fact the examples were all of how teams that trust one another and are self organised take time. It is something that needs to be trusted to get on with itself. I had flashbacks to previous teams and how we tried to do that (without the Agile word). Always a corporate control freak would try and crush it at the wrong time.
A spot of lunch and then it was me. 50 minutes of cool stuff collective, games tech, 3d printing etc. It is my same slide deck, in a slightly different order but it is here and if you were there it might make sense πŸ™‚ I felt the crowd were engaged and enjoying it. There were some interesting shows of hands, or not to some of my questions to see who did what where. 80% of people knew about 3d printing but the viral nature of reprap was a surprise to many.
I was really glad that all of us presenting had some freaky and interesting things to say but in particular next up after I had shown some custard pies being thrown (usually quite hard to follow) Daniel Hirschman @danielhirschman had more than enough to follow that madness. He has several angles to his work. As an artist and physical designer he has a different perspective to developers. However he also wants the world to learn to code, to be a maker to hack. This is a very cool combination. He is a fan of the Arduino and of processing, and builds real things with it.
This was fantastic, all built with arduino and some other hacks to make a corner shop a musical instrument for a beer advert by his company Hirsch and Mann ltd. Check out the other work, like the Turin interactives at the science museum.

However he also showed lots of the work too of his educational company Technology Will Save Us that makes kits with arduino and alike to let kids or any makers play with an idea and build some interesting things. His final mad example was Bright Eyes. Which he got a kickstarter going for and raised some funds

(We speculated that Andy Piper would have been one of the backers, and yes he is :))
These came out later at the party. They were very popular.
We then changed tack to several lightning 10 minute talks. We had kinect for shop windows being demoed, Dan (@mintsource) showed a clever web sockets sort of local network distributed pub quiz with real prizes. I missed out by 1 point on a prize grrr. Dan also showed Leap motion working.
I did a quick piece on Unity3d and hospitals it was great to be able to talk a bit about code and how it worked. For my own brain it was good but also to not just be the crazy virtual world guy πŸ™‚
It was a maker fest really πŸ™‚ It all seemed to fly by and lots of people wanted to talk afterwards to it seemed to hit the nail on the head.
I had not mentioned this conference had lots of breaks, good 30 minute ones. Not a quick 10 minutes to dash to the next talk, but ones to stop, chat, reflect etc. It’s pacing was really good. They have been doing it a while though.
The final keynote was different in that we all stood up. The chairs had gone. The speaker was Mike Lee @bmf He was talking about the App universe after the big bang. It was a war story presentation, and he admitted to being a bit jet lagged after the alternative WWDC conference he had run. He is ” Mayor of Appsterdam” and brought a typical ebullient American delivery but blende with a love of the art and culture in Amsterdam. His main thing was “don’t make games” basically he was saying it is not going to make you rich and it is too hard. He is making games, he is suffering for his art. He managed to get his plug in at the end, but as it is an educational game, or at least one that tries to blend learning and fun it is worth a look. It was entertaining and depressing in equal measure, but finished with the line “lets go drink beer”.
We all stayed at the venue for a while as it was meet the speakers time, and as a speaker I was there to be met πŸ™‚
Then it drifted back to what must have become a very expensive bar bill at the hotel.
As mentioned the Brighteyes came out, but the also went head ot head with a Google Glass rig (and won)
Google glass meets kickstarter #brighteyes #gotoams
It was also very cool that the father of OTI and VisualAgeSmalltalk and Java Dave Thomas also took to them πŸ™‚
Behind the lens flare that's Dave Thomas (visual age) wearing led #brighteyes 100+ LEDs playing patterns #gotoams
Anyway I had some awesome chats with people, made some great contacts, enjoyed what I heard and had a great trip.
So thankyou again Gotocon and trifork

Martial Arts Human Technology

This weekend was a very interesting one for those of us who study the Martial Art Choi Kwang Do as it was the 25th Anniversary festival and seminar. (I have written, and talked a lot about how I arrived at CKD via technology, as in the Flush The Fashion Article but as with all journeys there are always new discoveries). People from all over the globe arrived and took part in a variety of activities. Most notable was the presence of the founder of CKD Grand Master Choi.
He presented several times to various groups of us. At the age of 71 he is still incredibly flexible, physically fit and sharp of mind. Not to mention blindingly fast with his techniques.
Whilst I have been considering (as have others in CKD) the use of technology to aid training and perfecting of the techniques we use it struck me just how important our human biology is in the whole art. The way we learn, how we train, our motivations for training all need to be looked at.
That is obvious at one level, you can’t have a martial art of blocking, punching and kicking without humans. It can seem from the outside, as with many martial arts that the formality and structure is making everyone the same. Uniformity being an apparent goal. This is not the case though as I heard many times that everything has to be relative to the individual.
During the seminar we got to meet Jordan Leiva who has been practicing CKD for a long time, but who clearly also likes to use tech to improve and analyse and share his movements. To see the precision of years of practice in slow motion even if you are not part of a martial art is very poetic.

CKD is often described as being based on scientific principles but as I heard explained a few times in various ways the science has almost followed what was a gut feeling that Grand Master Choi had with a maverick view of doing things a better way. This is probably the other reason I gravitated towards this tribe of people. If the founder is a bit of a maverick, challenging the way things are done it it a natural fit.
Clearly the science of biomechanics feature a lot in being able to move and defend oneself from any attack, but it seems that the mere fact of learning the sequences, slowly and without pressure or tension offer range of other benefits to the brain and systems around it, with the ability to also ramp up the same patterns and moves to achieve different physiological effects. So how will technology help us adjust and train things going on inside our minds and bodies? I am still looking at kinect for the motion of the body, but I think I need to roll in the Neuorsky and alike to deal with mental state too.
I had always looked at exercise as something that was pretty binary. You put a lot of effort in, or you were not doing it right. I was aware that different heart rates altered the effect of exercise but still that seemed a very mechanical. Seeing the ease with which experts and Masters in CKD performed their patterns, and hearing Grand Master Choi point out that over training was not a good thing started to put my attitude to us as human pieces of technology in a different light.
A quick google to start to look at a bit of the brain science and the chemical changes we cause ourselves, which ties in with some of the anecdotal pieces of information I got to hear this weekend. This paper (though many academic papers are locked behind a paywall). It would appear there are some great chemical balancing acts that excercise causes. All related to BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). Physical activity at the right level for the age and abilities of the person increases brain function and grows new neurons. However too much and it damages the ability to learn. So you can reach a tired state, just at the right level for you as and individual and then be more receptive to new information.
I have been interested for a long time in people’s motivations and why they engage with certain tasks, games etc. How something feels is as important as what something is.
I think as we blend ourselves more with technology we are all going to have to start understanding the deeper impact it may have on our physiology which means there is a lot more room for a Cyber Martial Art that CKD could become aiming at improving all our experiences of life. It is another exciting avenue to investigate, whilst also not trying to over analyse and just enjoy the journey.